Hotel Rangamati's a pretty cosy place. done out in a sort of jungle theme, with 'faux' tree branches on the wall & several tanks full of fish out the front. I slept well, as I have been doing for most of the trip (exhaustion from cycling perhaps). Breakfast was another matter - I selected the 'standard' one for Rs65, comprising tea (which I managed to get changd to coffee), a banana, 3 pieces of toast & jam & eggs (poached, fried or omelette). Ordering an omelette seemed to create a problem, but this was eventually okayed. It all sounded good, but when it arrived - well, the coffee & banana were fine. The toast, accompanied by one serve of butter was cold, but the eggs ...! The eggs comprised two fried eggs, melded together by a thick overcooked base while the top of both was largely uncooked. I thought I'd have a go anyhow - it was stone cold! My complaint eventuated in a properly cooked omelette. God knows what the story was behind the first one.
Last night I had a meal at Green Chilli, the one Lonely Planet recommended place in town (and just across the laneway from Hotel Rangamati) - nothing much to write home about.
This morning I visited the Shantiniketan museum & then this afternoon I walked around parts of the university here. There were some fairly funky sculptures & buildings on view; everything seemed pretty much closed otherwise. I think Tuesday is a half-day here.
I thought I'd cash a travellers cheque at the State Bank of India. Entering the bank at midday I was confronted with a crowd of customers & staff & a bewildering array of desks & signs but nothing indicating Foreign Exchange or TC's. An enquiry led me to a woman at a corner desk, who was embroiled in some task with a male employee who appeared to be her senior. "Just wait" he requested when I presented the TC & passport & gestured me to sit in a chair at the next desk. After he left, she continued processing a pile of forms, looking somewhat harried. I pressed the issue, & was again told "just wait" which I did until about 12:20 when she & the woman at the next desk told me I needed to go upstairs to the Foreign Exchange section. I didn't have a clue where that was, so another member of staff kindly showed me the way. Upstairs, the man who had been at the desk when I first presented received me, took my passport & TC, looked up today's dollar rate on a computer, wrote something on a piece of paper & directed me back to the woman downstairs at the corner desk. "Just wait" she said before finishing a small pile of forms; she then filled out a form in triplicate, giving me 2 copies & then taking her copy to be countersigned by another colleague. She then directed me to the Cash Room where several workers & a few customers were waiting around. A pile of money was sitting on the desk, and there seemed to be bags of it in an open metal cabinet. I was offered a cup of tea as I sat & waited. Eventually it was my turn - an assistant counted out my money twice (Rs4520 for $100 USD), wrapped an elastic band around it & then put it on the desk to wait for the "Senior Assistant" (according to the blue plastic sign on the desk) to return. When he did, he recounted the money & handed it to me. Hallelujah! I left the bank a little after 1pm, the entire transaction having taken a little over an hour to complete. Normally this exercise takes about 7 minutes with a money changer. (I did manage to swap my stained Rs100 at the bank - they laughed, gave me a new one & stuck the dodgey one in the middle of a bundle of Rs100 notes, presumably to continue its unredeemable journey in circulation).